Laser eye surgery rightfully sounds incredibly intimidating and futuristic. State of the art technology is being implemented for the progression of visionary health, and it is producing amazing results. While laser eye surgery is not actually as scary as it sounds, the reality is that it is not something to be considered lightly as the results are permanent and irreversible. Procedures such as LASIK, PRK, and LASEK are all common forms of laser eye correction that are performed to achieve different outcomes and aid for different types of vision. While the surgery may not be the most costly in the world, it isn’t cheap. Here are 7 things to know before you get laser eye surgery that can help aid you in your timing and preparation.
1) It is Not a Guaranteed Cure
Laser eye surgery is performed to enhance the quality of your vision, but much like any other surgical procedure, there is no guaranteed outcome. Results rely on many factors such as vision quality prior to the surgery, overall health of the corneas and the tendency to have dry eyes. It has been reported that approximately ninety percent of LASIK patients develop 20/20 or 20/40 vision following the healing process; however, vision quality isn’t always compatible for certain areas of work or recreation. It should also be known that the results and quality of vision following the surgery may decrease or weaken over an extended period of time, even though the surgery is permanent and irreversible. The outcome of laser eye surgery can also be affected if proper after care is not implemented or if other elements of vision health and safety are neglected.
2) You May Require a Repeat Procedure
Some LASIK eye surgery patients require a secondary procedure known as a “refinement” depending on the quality and type of vision they have. Patients with increased myopic (nearsighted) vision are more likely to need a LASIK refinement. This repeat of the surgical process is in regards to refractive error. Those with myopic vision tend to view clearly when objects are up close, but at a distance they become blurry an indistinguishable. LASIK refinement is becoming less common as laser eye surgery technology advances; however, some patients undergo a secondary procedure because the results to not meet their standards for quality. Understand that laser eye surgery refinements now occur at a decreased rate of below 0.2 percent and often depend on age and the expectations of the individual patient.
3) You May Not Be Qualified for Surgery
There are a few physical requirements that must be addressed prior to the completion of laser eye surgery. Patients must be thoroughly evaluated to ensure full compatibility with the LASIK procedure. All patients must be a minimum of 18 years old and not pregnant or nursing. Those seeking laser eye surgeries must also be in good health in regards to vision prior to the procedure. Prescriptions must be up to date and free of refraction, or at least have been stabilized. Certain medications are also prohibited, such as Accutane, which is a prescription for nodular acne treatment, causes adverse side effects in the visual healing process. A history of dry eyes will also have an influence on qualification for laser eye surgery as it inhibits the healing process following the surgery. Generally, patients should be in good health to eliminate the risk of complications.
4) Most Insurance Does Not Cover Laser Eye Surgery
One of the major stipulations with getting laser eye surgery is that most insurance companies will not cover the procedure. Because of the availability of other visionary options such as prescription eyeglasses or contact lenses, laser eye surgery is typically considered an elective or cosmetic procedure, which eliminates the possibility for help from insurance. While it has been possible for some to obtain coverage for the surgery, it is not an easy process and is usually only applicable for special cases in which military personnel require the surgery to perform a job or military duty. Regardless of your position, the reality is that a lot of paperwork is required and the approval rate is very low. It can also take an extended period of time for insurance providers to review and process the request. Without insurance, laser eye surgery can be fairly expensive and can cost up to $2,500 before the performance of a possible repeat procedure.
5) You Will Be Awake
Laser eye surgeries are fairly speedy and can take as little as ten minutes to complete, beginning with the numbing of the eyes using special eye drops. What potential patients of laser eye surgery should know is that most facilities will complete the surgery while you are awake. Particularly anxious patients may also be given a light sedative to help them get comfortable and relax through the process, but the most that you are expected to feel is minor discomfort or vibrations from the treatment. It may seem intimidating to remain conscious during such a permanent procedure, especially when state of the art technology is being used, but there are tools to assist in the prevention of blinking as well as involuntary eye movement. By staying awake during the surgery, you are also eliminating additional costs for general anesthesia.
6) Complications Can Occur
Every surgical procedure has its share of possible complications and side effects, and laser eye surgery is no exception. Prior to treatment, patients should know that popular processes such as LASIK have less common risks of dry eyes, glares or other bursts of light, and even vision loss. No surgery can be guaranteed to have a perfect or outcome free of any complications along the way, but there are certain types of patients who may be at a higher risk for vision complications and should not pursue laser eye surgery. Individuals who are pregnant, have an autoimmune disease, or have collagen vascular disease are discouraged from engaging in the surgical process until all symptoms or conditions have been approved by a qualified eye care professional.
7) Only Certain Types of Vision are Repaired
Laser based corrective eye surgery will only be effective for certain types of vision and is not recommended for those who have severe case of vision loss or conditions such as uncontrolled glaucoma. Different types of laser eye surgery are more appropriate for people with certain other pre-existing health conditions. For example, an individual with diabetes might benefit more from forms of laser correction such as PRK and LASEK, which offer combined benefits of other types of laser surgery and are based on type of correction as well as desired results. There are four types of vision including myopic (nearsightedness), hyperopic (farsightedness), astigmatism (blurred vision), and presbyopic (aging vision). All types of vision may require a different form of laser eye correction and should be thoroughly researched to achieve a proper outcome.